This is Not My First Rodeo

This is a photograph of me, it was taken when I was 29 years old. I had emerged triumphant from a cocoon of fat a year or so before. How did I do it? Just like I’m doing now. I wrote down every single thing I ate, and I walked everywhere. I lived in Boston then, so it was easy enough to leave my car parked and take the train to work (walk to the train, take train, walk from train station to work, walk to lunch, walk back to the train station, take train, walk home). I lost a hundred pounds doing it twenty years ago, and I can do it again.

Of course, when I lost all that weight, I swore I would never get that way again. And I didn’t– for quite a long time. But no one walks anywhere in Montana, just as a matter of course. There’s hiking, certainly, and skiing, and riding. But I was busy, newly married, with two stepchildren, then a new baby, then a new job– writing– that kept me firmly planted on my ass much of the time. I even drove the six blocks from the newspaper office to the police station. Parking was never a problem. It was easy, and quick, to drive. There was plenty of socializing and it all involved food. Slowly, year by year, pound by pound, it all came back. And then some.

I’ve made stabs at dieting, but they were lackluster. Occasionally I’ll run across a seemingly blank book only to find that the first three pages are an abandoned food diary. I’d try a little walking, but I was always in a hurry and as it was, there weren’t enough hours in the day. I ate at my desk, in the car, I frequently just grabbed a burger from the Stockman or Mark’s In and Out or McDonald’s. One time I bought up a supply of Slimquick, but that turned me into a raving lunatic. Yes, more of a raving lunatic than I am now.

And every time I started a diet, my husband would furrow his brow and say “Is this the divorce diet?”  My husband worked for the railroad, and it was not uncommon for a railroad wife to lose a bunch of weight, then lose the husband and the life she thought she hated. In fact, my husband’s first wife had pulled this very same move years before I came on the scene. The message was clear: staying fat equalled staying married.

I am happy to say that now that we’ve racked up two decades, he just teases me about the divorce diet, and has been very supportive, other than really struggling with my insistence of buying watermelon already cut up, and thus, much more expensively.

But I had forgotten an essential component of what made the First Rodeo really work: prizes. For every ten pounds I lost, I rewarded myself. I don’t remember all of them. The first ten pounds was a Chanel lipstick. Somewhere along 40 pounds was a Panama hat from LL Bean’s and the trip up to Maine to get it. Weirdly, I don’t remember what the ultimate prize was– maybe I never got it. It certainly was reward enough being half the size I’d been.

Now that I’m 16 pounds down, I’m overdue for the first one, though I think I’m going to count my fantastic new Sperry Son-R shoes (designed for kayaking, sailing, hiking, etc and really fun) as the first one. I set out to lose 80 pounds and that is still the target, it would be nice to make it a good round number like 100– and so I’ve decided that when I lose half myself again, I will finally buy a sailing dinghy, which I’ve wanted to do for years.  Just a little boat to knock around on lakes.

But that leaves Prizes 2 through 9, and I am entertaining suggestions. The object should cost less than a hundred bucks, should not involve food, and should not be something I really need, in other words, a small luxury. Please, send suggestions!

Today’s target number 63.8, number of steps walked 5313. Consumed: banana, blueberry yogurt with granola, cup of blueberries with two tablespoons heavy cream, scrambled eggs for lunch with one ounce of cheese, a  six ounce filet mignon for dinner, with an artichoke and for dessert, half a cup of blood orange sorbetto.